Animals in Ireland

Below you can find a complete list of Irish animals. We currently track 159 animals in Ireland and are adding more every day!

Toward the end of the last Ice Age, some 2.6 million years ago, rising sea levels cut Ireland off from the European mainland. This led to the evolution of some uniquely adapted animals on the Emerald Isle. Twenty-six terrestrial mammals are native to Ireland, including the Irish hare, the Irish stoat, the Irish grey partridge, and ten species of bats. Though well over 450 unique bird species call Ireland home for at least part of the year, all but two of these species are migratory.

Far more animal species flourished in Ireland throughout the Ice Age, including the wooly mammoth, the wild horse, the Irish elk (also called giant deer), and a brown bear species thought by biologists to be an ancestor to today’s polar bear. It’s likely that predatory human hunting contributed to these animals’ extinction.

The Official National Animal of Ireland

There’s some controversy over Ireland’s national animal. Many people think it should be the Irish elk. The Irish elk, though, has one huge problem with optics: It’s extinct.

The next best choice is the Irish hare, which is the only lagomorph native to Ireland. Irish hares are significantly larger than rabbits, weighing as much as 8 pounds. They’re famous for the predatory boxing behavior they display during early spring as part of their mating rituals. It’s likely that the famous March hare in “Alice in Wonderland” was intended to be an Irish hare.

Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Ireland

While some Irish fauna like the red fox, the badger, the otter, and the pygmy shrew is fairly evenly distributed throughout the island, others like the Irish hare, the red deer, and the pine marten are more likely to be found in one of Ireland’s six national parks and numerous nature preserves:

  • Wicklow Mountains: Protected fauna in the Wicklow Mountains National Park include otters, bats, and endangered bird species such as the whooper swan and the peregrine falcon.
  • The Burren: If you want to glimpse the pine marten in its native habitat, the place to go is Burren National Park in County Clare.
  • Killarney: In 1981, County Kerry’s Killarney National Park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The yew and oak woodlands comprising this park are some of the only forests remaining on the island and home to Ireland’s only indigenous herd of red deer.
  • Glenveagh: Golden eagles were thought to be extinct in Ireland for many years. Then a breeding pair was sighted, and in 2000, this endemic bird species was reintroduced in Glenveagh National Park where it survived and thrived. Glenveagh also contains Ireland’s largest herd of red deer.
  • Connemara: Connemara is most famous for its wild Connemara ponies. According to popular folklore, these mammals originally descended from ponies brought over by the Vikings during the Dark Ages. Connemara also hosts a variety of birds, including chaffinches, kestrel, and snipe, during the warmer months.
  • Ballycroy: Ballycroy National Park is a birdwatcher’s delight, hosting dippers, sandpipers, whooper swans, and rare predatory birds such as merlin and peregrine falcons.

The Most Dangerous Animals In Ireland Today

Contemporary Ireland has few dangerous animals. Until the beginning of the 18th century, however, grey wolves were common throughout much of Ireland. According to popular folklore, Cormac Ulfada, the most famous of the ancient High Kings of Ireland, was raised by grey wolves and was fluent in their speech.

Wolves and humans maintained an uneasy truce until the decade after Oliver Cromwell conquered Ireland when an enormous amount of anti-wolf legislation was passed. Historical facts show that professional wolf hunters swarmed into Ireland from all parts of Europe, and today, wolves are extinct on the Emerald Isle. The last wild wolf in Ireland is reported to have been killed in 1786.

Endangered Animals In Ireland

Endangered mammals in Ireland include the otter, the pine martin, and the red squirrel. That doesn’t cover the facts on all native fauna threatened by extinction, though. Unique fish like the gillaroo, pollan, and goureen are also in danger of becoming extinct.

Irish Animals

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Armyworm

They are so named because they "march" in armies of worms from one crop to another in search of food

Aurochs

Extinct ancestor of all domesticated cattle!

Avocet

Has a curved, upturned beak!

Badger

Can reach speeds of 30 km/h!

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Barn Swallow

Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

Beetle

There are more than 350,000 different species

Bird

Not all birds are able to fly!

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Bumblebee

The most common species of bee!

Butterfly

There are thought to be up 20,000 species!

Camel Cricket

The camel crickets that are found in the USA are light brown in color. They also have dark streaks all over their body.

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter ants can lift up to seven times their own weight with their teeth!

Cat

First domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians!

Caterpillar

The larvae of a moth or butterfly!

Catfish

There are nearly 3,000 different species!

Centipede

There are about 3,000 documented species!

Chamois

Natively found in the European mountains!

Chicken

First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!

Cockroach

Dated to be around 300 million years old!

Common Buzzard

The most common raptor in the UK!

Common Frog

Found throughout the European continent!

Common House Spider

House spiders have the ability to eat most insects in a home.

Common Loon

Also known as the Great Northern Diver

Common Raven

A group of ravens is called an unkindness or a conspiracy.

Common Toad

Most active in wet weather!

Cow

There are nearly 1.5 million worldwide!

Crab

There are 93 different crab groups

Crab Spider

Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings

Crane

Many are critically endangered species!

Deer

There are around 40 different species!

Dog

First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Donkey

First domesticated 5,000 years ago!

Dormouse

Found in Europe, Africa and Asia!

Dragonfly

It's larvae are carnivorous!

Duck

Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

Dung Beetle

The dung beetle can push objects many times its own weight

Eagle

Has exceptional eyesight!

Earwig

There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Edible Frog

Are known to guard the muddy banks!

Eel

Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!

Ermine

A very bold and ferocious predator!

Falcon

The fastest creatures on the planet!

Fallow deer

The fallow deer has more variation in its coat colors than most other deer.

False Widow Spider

False spiders actually prey on black widow spiders and other hazardous spiders

Ferret

Ferrets can be trained to do tricks like dogs!

Fly

There are more than 240,000 different species!

Flying Squirrel

Can glide up to 90 meters!

Fox

There are 12 different species in the world!

Frog

There are around 7,000 different species!

Glass Lizard

Can grow up to 4ft long!

Glen Of Imaal Terrier

This dog is also named the Wicklow Terrier after the county of its origin.

Glow Worm

Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!

Goat

Most closely related to the Sheep!

Golden Oriole

Migrates between Europe and Asia!

Goose

There are 29 different species!

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Hamster

Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!

Hare

Can reach speeds of over 40 mph!

Hedgehog

Thought to be one of the oldest mammals on Earth!

Heron

Inhabits wetlands around the world!

Highland Cattle

Natively found in the Scottish Highlands!

Honey Bee

There are only 8 recognized species!

Hoopoe

Stunning bird with a stinky way to deter predators!

Horse

Has evolved over 50 million years!

Horsefly

Horseflies have been seen performing Immelmann turns, much like fighter jets.

Human

Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!

Huntsman Spider

Some huntsman spiders have an interesting way of moving around. Some cartwheel while others do handsprings or backflips.

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

Irish Setter

Can live for up to 16 years!

Irish Terrier

An average 300 Irish Terrier puppies are born each year in the United States.

Irish Water Spaniel

The only known canine with a purple hue.

Irish WolfHound

Sweet-tempered, patient and thoughtful!

Kerry Blue Terrier

They are born black, and turn gray-blue as they age.

Kingfisher

Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!

Ladybug

There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!

Lemming

Does not hibernate during the bitter Arctic winter!

Lizard

There are around 5,000 different species!

Locust

Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.

Long-Eared Owl

Ear tufts make it look bigger!

Magpie

They are found across Europe, Asia and Africa!

Marsh Frog

Has bright green skin!

Mayfly

There are 2,500 known species worldwide!

Mealybug

They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mole

Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!

Mongrel

Has characteristics of two or more breeds!

Moorhen

Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!

Moth

There are 250,000 different species!

Mouse

Found on every continent on Earth!

Mule

The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!

Neanderthal

Roamed Asia and Europe for around 100,000 years!

Newt

Able to regrow lost or damaged limbs!

Nightingale

Named more than 1,000 years ago!

No See Ums

There are more than 5,000 species.

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Otter

There are 13 different species worldwide

Otterhound

Otterhounds have webbed feet making them great swimmers!

Peregrine Falcon

Fastest animal on Earth

Pheasant

Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!

Pig

Thought to have been domesticated in 9,000 BC!

Pigeon

They can find their way back to their nests from up to 1300 miles away.

Pika

Found in mountainous regions and rocky areas

Pike Fish

Apex freshwater predators with fearsome teeth!

Pine Marten

A pine marten can jump from tree to tree similar to a squirrel.

Pond Skater

There are 500 different species!

Pool Frog

The rarest amphibian in the UK!

Porcupine

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Porpoise

Surprisingly, not a dolphin!

Puffin

Can remain in the water for up to 2 minutes!

Purple Emperor Butterfly

Inhabits deciduous forests!

Puss Moth

Caterpillars squirt formic acid!

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Rabbit

There are more than 50 different species!

Raccoon

Known to wash their food before eating it!

Raccoon Dog

The only hibernating canine!

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

River Turtle

Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!

Robin

There are more than 45 species in Australia alone!

Rodents

The capybara, the world’s largest rodent, likes to be in and around bodies of water. Because of this, the Catholic Church in South America decided that it was a fish, and people were allowed to eat it during Lent and First Fridays.

Salamander

There are more than 700 different species!

Sand Lizard

Males turn green in spring!

Scorpion

There are around 2,000 known species!

Seahorse

Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!

Sheep

Around 35 million in the English countryside!

Shrimp

There are 2,000 different species worldwide!

Skink Lizard

Some skinks lay eggs in some habitats while giving birth to skinklets in other habitats.

Slow Worm

Found widely throughout British gardens!

Slug

They glide around on one foot, which is aided by the slime they produce

Snail

There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Snake

There are around 3,000 known species worldwide

Snowy Owl

One of the largest owl species in the world!

Spadefoot Toad

They spend most of their time underground!

Sparrow

There are 140 different species!

Spider Wasp

They prey on spiders to feed their larvae or they parasitize other spider wasps.

Squirrel

Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Stoat

Average adults weigh about 200 grams!

Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

Termite

Their mounds can be up to 9 meters tall!

Thrush

The American robin is called the robin because its red breast reminded European settlers of the robin back in the old country.

Tiger Moth

The bright colors of this moth are a signal to predators that it has a terrible taste.

Tortoise

Can live until they are more than 150 years old!

Tree Frog

Found in warmer jungles and forests!

Turtles

Some species of aquatic turtles can get up to 70 percent of their oxygen through their butt.

Vulture

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Wasp

There are around 75,000 recognised species!

Water Buffalo

Has been domesticated for thousands of years!

Water Vole

The largest Vole species in the UK!

Weasel

The smallest carnivorous mammal in the world!

Wheaten Terrier

Originally bred as a farm dog, the Wheaten Terrier can be very protective of its domain.

Willow Warbler

This bird molts twice a year.

Wolf

Thought to date back more than 300,000 years!

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.

Woodlouse

This animal can roll up into a ball

Woodpecker

There are 200 different species!

Zebra Mussels

A female zebra mussel can deposit 30,000 to 1,000,000 eggs each year!

Irish Animals List

Animals in Ireland FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What kinds of animals live in Ireland?

Many unique types of wildlife live and have lived in Ireland. They include the pine marten, the Irish elk, the Irish hare, the red deer, and ten resident bat species.

What dangerous animals live in Ireland?

The predatory grey wolves that were endemic to Ireland became extinct approximately 250 years ago. If you really want the facts, the most dangerous animals living in Ireland today are probably humans.

Does Ireland have bears?

Ireland had brown bears as recently as the last Ice Age. They are extinct now.

Does Ireland have snakes now?

Whether or not you believe the popular folklore tale that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, it’s quite true that Ireland has no native snakes. It does have a native reptile species called Zootoca vivipara that looks like a small snake. The endemic Zootoca vivipara is actually a species of legless lizard.

What animals are native to Ireland?

The Irish hare, the Connemara pony, the red fox, the pygmy shrew, and the red deer are among the unique fauna that is native to Ireland.

What is the rarest animal in Ireland?

At one time, the pine marten was widely distributed throughout all of Ireland. Today, the weasel-like animal can only be found in a few places near the Emerald Isle’s western coast and in its midlands. Biologists estimate that Ireland’s pine marten population is down to only 2,700 individuals.